NEW DELHI (AP) — India summoned Pakistan's top diplomat in New Delhi on Wednesday to formally complain about an attack on an Indian army patrol in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir that killed two soldiers and left their bodies mutilated.
India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that Pakistan has been asked to "immediately investigate these actions that are in contravention of all norms of international conduct and ensure that these do not recur."
Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan but divided between them. The countries have fought two wars over Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in largely Hindu India, but a cease-fire between the two rivals has largely held for a decade.
India says Pakistani troops crossed the cease-fire line Tuesday and attacked Indian soldiers patrolling in the Mendhar region before retreating. The government statement said the bodies of the two killed soldiers were "subjected to barbaric and inhuman mutilation."
Brig. S. Chawla, a senior Indian army officer, said one of the bodies had been decapitated.
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the Indian allegations on Wednesday and called them "baseless and unfounded."
"Pakistan is prepared to hold investigations through the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan on the recent cease-fire violations on the Line of Control," it said in a statement.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the U.N. observers had received an official complaint from the Pakistan army about Sunday's incident "and will conduct an investigation as soon as possible in accordance with its mandate." He said no official complaint has been received about Tuesday's incident.
The violence was the second in three days in Kashmir. On Sunday a Pakistani soldier was shot in a nearby area.
Pakistan alleged that Indian troops crossed the cease-fire line in Sunday's attack. Both sides have denied crossing into the other's territory.
Relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals have improved dramatically since the 2008 attack on Mumbai, when 10 Pakistani gunmen killed 166 people and effectively shut down the city for days. India claims the terrorists had ties to Pakistani intelligence officials — an accusation Islamabad denies.
Signs of their improving ties include new visa rules announced in December designed to make cross-border travel easier. They have also been taking steps to improve cross-border trade.
The 2003 cease-fire ended the most recent round of Kashmir fighting, although each side occasionally accuses the other of violating it by firing mortars or gunshots across the Line of Control.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday the U.S. was urging both India and Pakistan to "de-escalate" after the recent clashes at the Line of Control, and continue high-level consultations to work through their differences.
"Violence is not the answer for either country," Nuland told a news briefing in Washington.
While deaths are now relatively rare, a number of Pakistani civilians were wounded by Indian shelling in November. In October, the Indian army said Pakistani troops killed three civilians when they fired across the frontier.
Associated Press writers Sebastian Abbot in Islamabad and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this story.